by Leah Gillen
“The Lord will not waste a single tear that you’ve shed since Chris died. Not one.” If she’s said it to me once, she’s said it at least a dozen times. My friend, Lorie, has been quick to reassure me the tragedy of my husband’s suicide would not be wasted…that God would be glorified even through something so horrific and He would use me in spite of my brokenness.
In the early days and months, those were tough words to swallow. I believed her, but I simply couldn’t see it. My “new normal” life as a widow seemed so dysfunctional.
I couldn’t make simple decisions.
I couldn’t get through most days without an emotional breakdown.
The simplest things in life became the most difficult.
How in the world would God use this “mess” of a woman for His glory? While I didn’t know or understand just then, I still committed myself to Him and whatever work He planned to do through me.
Suicide is such an ugly word – or at least it seemed that way to me at the time. Anytime someone would ask how my husband passed away, I would honestly share, “he committed suicide”. You could almost visibly see the shift in expression or movement that resulted in a little more space between us. It made people uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to say or how to respond. And you know what? I totally understood that. I really did.
Prior to Chris’ suicidal death, I wouldn’t have known how to respond either…I would have wanted to withdraw that question as soon as it escaped my lips if I had known that would be the answer. However, God has definitely made me sympathetic and empathetic to those that are “suicide survivors” – the term officially used for family members left to survive the suicide of a loved one. As a result of having “survived” this experience myself, I’ve been acquainted with numerous other women (especially) and a few men and children that have lost relatives to suicide. I’ve been privileged to pray for them/with them, to pass along resources that have helped me along my journey. I’ve been asked a couple of times to share “my story” of God’s redemptive hope that’s been poured out upon me through this heartbreak. I’ve been asked to guest blog about my journey upon occasion and to even “counsel” with other suicide survivors.
Each time my throat wells up and my eyes form new tears (because, that continues to happen ladies…even after healing), I praise God that He’s not allowing one of those tears to be wasted. While I wish I never had to experience something so horrific, I am so thankful that God has allowed my tragedy to be used for His glory!
Has it been easy? Far from it! But, God doesn’t ask us to do “easy” – just to trust Him and give Him our “difficulties”. I had no other choice ladies…I couldn’t carry this burden alone. I had to give it to Him. All of it. And in return? He’s restored so much more than I could ever imagine!
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores (emphasis mine) my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV1984)